FTP: Baptisms and pythons

Gary Karschner

This past weekend was a great time of fun, study and blessings. We in the Methodist Church have a process of bringing the youth of eleven to fourteen years of age into the church. You may have the same thing in your churches. We call the process Confirmation. It is months of study, training, and learning about the church. It culminates with a formal acceptance and entrance as members into the church. This happened last Sunday at Miles United Methodist Church.

The parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles all stood with the confirmands and we prayed over them. It was a  wonderful thing to behold.

The “Confirmation weekend” started Friday night. We had a sleepover at the church. Julie Smithwick graciously volunteered to chaperone the event with me. The evening started with a trip to San Angelo to the First United Methodist Church  to see that ‘big church’ and compare it to our ‘little church’. The confirmands were impressed with the size of the church and many of the accessories we do not have, but in general they learned we are more the same than different.

We then went to the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in San Angelo. Did you know there is a synagogue in San Angelo? Yeah, there is one and the history it brings to San Angelo is remarkable. We enjoyed a tour of the facility and then sat with them through their service. The kids were impressed and learned more than I expected. I am going to encourage my congregation to attend one of these Friday night services. It is really neat.

Next we went to the King Buffet for dinner. After we were stuffed we went back to the church. The kids played ping-pong and we adults (including Deen and Kimberly Burrus and their daughter Gracie)  played cards and watched the kids expend energy. It was a great time. The Burrus’s left about 1:00 a.m. and that left Julie and me to herd  the confirmands to bed. Finally they went to bed (not to sleep) at 3:00 a.m.  At 8:00 a.m. Sweet Martha Petrey came and fixed us all a big  breakfast.          

This is when things got interesting. Curry Smithwick and I were talking about his impending Baptism taking place later that day. It was going to occur at the Smithwick ‘tank’. Curry wanted to experience the full experience of an immersion Baptism, so he decided he wanted do it at the tank. It was all good until he said, “I hope we don’t see any snakes there this time”. 

He had my immediate attention.

‘Snakes’ and ‘this time’ perked me up. Julie said, “it probably would not be a problem”. I tried to control my fear. That afternoon when those wonderful rain showers were pouring over the area, many of us were at the ‘tank’ preparing for a big meal and Curry’s full immersion experience. We both slowly walked into the murky tank. I was trying not to lose my footing on the slippery bottom. I was hoping to not feel a reptile touch my legs. I did not want to embarrass myself in front of so many members of my church and family and friends of Curry. I did not want to leave Curry in the ‘tank’ while I screamed and ran for help. Needless to say, though, it all went well. In fact, it stopped raining at the time we all walked to the tank.

The meal at the Smithwick’s was wonderful. It was there I found out why the guys snickered when I mentioned the snake story before we climbed into the water. They had pictures of a giant snake consuming a catfish taken at this very tank Curry and I were in. I am so glad they chose not to show me the pictures before the Baptism.  If I had seen that “Python” eating the catfish beforehand, Curry might not have been baptized on Saturday.

I thank all the folks who made this weekend so special. Memories were made that will last a lifetime. Be Well, Gary K